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Seniors and Reverse Mortgages

Wed, 08 Aug by Pauline Relkey

A reverse mortgage is a loan that allows you to get money from your home equity without having to sell your home. You may be able to borrow up to 55% of the current value of your home tax-free.

Eligibility for a reverse mortgage
To be eligible for a reverse mortgage, you must be:
a homeowner
at least 55 years old. If you have a spouse, both of you must be at least 55 years old to be eligible.

Qualifying for a reverse mortgage
Your lender will consider:
your home equity
where you live
your age
your home’s appraised value
current interest rates

In general, the older you are and the more home equity you have when you apply for a reverse mortgage, the bigger your loan will be.

Accessing money with a reverse mortgage
You may choose to get the money from your loan through:
lump-sum payment
planned advances, giving you a regular income
a combination of both of these options
You must first pay off any outstanding loans that are secured by the equity in your home with the funds you get from your reverse mortgage.
You can use the remainder of the loan for anything you wish, such as:
pay for home improvements
add to your retirement income
cover healthcare expenses

Repaying the money you borrow with a reverse mortgage
You don’t need to make any regular payments on a reverse mortgage. You have the option to repay the principal and interest in full at any time.
Interest will be charged until the loan is paid off in full. The interest will be added to the original loan amount, which increases the loan amount over time.
If you sell your house or if you move out, you’ll have to make payments. When you die, your estate will have to repay the loan.

Costs to get a reverse mortgage
Costs associated with a reverse mortgage may include:
higher interest rate than for a traditional mortgage
a home appraisal fee
a closing fee
a prepayment penalty if you sell your house or move out within 3 years of getting a reverse mortgage
fees for independent legal advice
Shop around and explore your options before getting a reverse mortgage.

Compare the costs and impact of the following:
getting another type of loan, such as a line of credit or credit card, etc
selling your home
buying a smaller home
renting another home or apartment
moving into assisted living, or other alternative housing

Where to get a reverse mortgage
Two financial institutions offer reverse mortgages in Canada:
HomEquity Bank offers the Canadian Home Income Plan (CHIP). It is available across Canada directly from HomEquity Bank or through mortgage brokers
Equitable Bank offers the PATH Home Plan. It is available through mortgage brokers in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario
Your financial institution may offer other products that might meet your needs.

Pros and cons of a reverse mortgage
Before you decide to get a reverse mortgage, make sure you consider the pros and cons carefully.
Pros
You don’t have to make any regular loan payments
You may turn some of the value of your home into cash, without having to sell it
The money you borrow is a tax-free source of income
This income does not affect the Old-Age Security (OAS) or Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) benefits you may be getting
You still own your home
You can decide how to get the funds

Cons
Interest rates are higher than most other types of mortgages
The equity you hold in your home may go down as the interest on your loan adds up throughout the years
Your estate will have to repay the loan and interest in full within a set period of time when you die
The time needed to settle an estate can often be longer than the time allowed to repay a reverse mortgage
There may be less money in your estate to leave to your children or other beneficiaries
Costs associated with a reverse mortgage are usually quite high compared to a regular mortgage

Questions to ask a lender about reverse mortgages
Before getting a reverse mortgage, ask your lender about:
the fees
any penalties if you sell your home within a certain period of time
how much time will you or your estate have to pay off the loan’s balance if you move or die
what happens if it takes your estate longer than the stated time period to fully repay the loan when you die
what happens if the amount of the loan ends up being higher than your home’s value when it’s time to pay the loan back

Myth: The bank owns the home.
Fact: The homeowner always maintains title ownership and control of their home and they have the freedom to decide when and if they’d like to move or sell.

Myth: The bank can force the homeowner to sell or foreclose at any time.
Fact: A reverse mortgage is a lifetime product and as long as property taxes and insurance are in good standing, the property remains in good condition, and the homeowner is living in the home, the loan won’t be called even if the house decreases in value. Reverse mortgages provide peace-of-mind that the homeowner can stay in their home as long as they’d like.

Myth: Surviving spouses are stuck paying the loan after the homeowner passes away.
Fact: Surviving spouses can choose to remain in the home without having to make a payment unless they choose to sell the home.

Myth: The homeowner cannot get a reverse mortgage if they have an existing mortgage.
Fact: Many people use a reverse mortgage to pay off their existing mortgage and debts, freeing up cash flow for other things.

Myth: A reverse mortgage is a solution of last resort.
Fact: Many financial professionals recommend a reverse mortgage because it’s a great way to provide financial flexibility. Since it’s tax-free money, it allows retirement savings to last longer.

Home is where the heart is, but it’s getting more difficult for seniors to stay in their homes.
93% of Canadian Seniors live at home and prefer to age in place.
60% of retired Canadians say staying in their home is critical to their quality of life.
700,000 Canadian senior-led households face a housing affordability challenge.
Canadian seniors who live alone at home experience poverty at nearly twice the rate of other seniors.
1 in 4 Canadian senior-led households are spending more than 30% of their income on housing.
Only 1/3 of the Canadian workforce is covered by a registered pension plan down from 37% in 1992.
Almost 30% of Canadians who are nearing retirement have $50,000 or less in savings.
35% of those nearing retirement plan to use the value of their home to generate retirement income.
Nearly 70% of Canadians nearing retirement are still carrying debt.

THE TAKEAWAY
Most seniors prefer to live their retirement years at home but live on modest incomes and may face challenges to their financial security. Canadian seniors do benefit from access to CPP, OAS and housing assets but are feeling the pinch.

Sask Power Outages

Mon, 30 Apr by Pauline Relkey

Are you wondering if your area will have a planned outage soon? Check Sask Power’s website to plan ahead. Click here.

When an Outage Occurs

  • Step 1: Determine if the power failure is limited to your home

    • If your neighbours have power, check your electrical panel to see if the main circuit breaker has tripped. Even if it appears to be on, turn the breaker off and back on again to ensure a good connection.

    Step 2: If your electrical panel or main breaker isn’t the cause of the outage, call 310-2220.

    • Turn off or unplug any appliances, computers or electronics you were using when the power went out. Leave one light on so you’ll know when your power returns.
    • Keep refrigerators and freezers closed. If the power is out for a long time, make sure you check all refrigerated and frozen food before you eat it.
    • Close all doors, windows and drapes to conserve heat (unless the sun is shining in).
    • Never light a fire indoors unless you’re using an approved fire place or wood stove.
    • When faced with multiple outages, Sask Power prioritizes as follows:

      1. Life threatening or hazardous situations like power lines that have fallen on a road or vehicle.
      2. Large outages — Main lines and major equipment that return power to the largest number of customers.
      3. Small, isolated outages — Secondary lines and neighbourhood equipment.

When the Power Is Restored

They restore power when repairs are complete. If your neighbour’s power has returned and yours has not, there could be a problem specific to your home. Recheck your main breaker and reset it even if it appears to be on.

Occasionally, the power goes out again; this is sometimes the sign of another unidentified problem. Make sure to call us every time the power goes out (after you’ve checked your own main breaker). If power is not restored, call us toll-free at 310-2220.

Tips for the First-Time Home Buyer

Wed, 25 Apr by Pauline Relkey

When venturing into the world of home ownership, first-time buyers often find themselves having to make important, fast decisions in what feels like a surreal situation — after all, it might have only been a few weeks since owning a home seemed more like a far-off daydream than an immediate reality. A few common sense tips will help you navigate these unfamiliar landscapes as you move towards one of the biggest financial decisions of your life.

1. Get pre-approved
Though a pre-approval isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get a mortgage when you’re find a property, having one can give you a firm grasp on what you can afford before you start looking. A pre-approval from your bank or lender will save you time by narrowing your search to a more precise selection of homes, and this, in turn, can protect you from the all-too-common disappointment that follows setting your heart on a house you can’t afford.

2. Don’t expect your standards of living to change
It’s bound to happen: you see a house that maxes out your budget, but you imagine you can make it work by cutting out things like morning coffees, cellular data and cable TV. Remember, ‘roughing it’ for the sake of your house quickly loses its charm, and you’ll soon regret the lack of wiggle room for things like new furniture, redecorating, or unexpected repairs. Don’t regret your first home — avoid becoming ‘house poor’ by staying below the upper limit of what your bank is willing to lend you.

3. Make a list and check it as many times as it takes
Each property you consider will have its own unique combination of pros and cons, and going through them can feel a little like comparing apples to oranges. Don’t expect to stay clear-headed when the house with the poor walking score has the kitchen of your dreams; instead, stay on track by building a list of “must haves” and “nice to haves.” Though your list might evolve over time (especially if the “must haves” are rare for your price range), having a set of self-imposed guidelines can keep your search on course when you’re feeling overwhelmed by options.

4. Don’t confuse “first home” with “forever home”
Most first-time buyers start out a little starry-eyed, imagining that new home will be stylish, spacious, efficient … basically, everything they’ve been dreaming of. In reality, being able to afford a house that has everything you want is pretty rare in the first go-round, which can make you feel so discouraged you start closing yourself off to the available options. Remember, your ‘starter home’ doesn’t have to meet all the criteria of your ‘dream home,’ and the equity you’ll build for the next few years will get you closer to your goal.

With so much new information to absorb, steps to take, and decisions to make, buying a first home can feel like a rollercoaster ride. It’s important not to lose your head throughout all of it. Taking a few steps to keep your expectations rooted firmly in reality can help you glide through the process and feel confident in your final decision.

How to Find Out Who’s Tracking You Through Your Smartphone

Thu, 08 Mar by Pauline Relkey

Safety should always be our top priority. With the help of just a few short codes, you can find out more about the settings of your phone and work out whether or not your messages and information are protected and whether you’re being tracked.

Bright Side has gathered together some of the most useful and important codes for smartphones all in one article, together with some instructions for those who’re worried about being tracked.

*#21# With this code, you can find out whether your calls, messages and other data are being diverted. The status of the different types of diversions that are taking place along with the number the information is being transferred to will be displayed on your phone’s screen. This function is most often set up by either jealous partners or parents who are trying to protect their kids from spam or criminals. Elderly people often become victims of this practice when they lend their phone to a stranger to make a single call. If they do so, they risk having information about where they live, who their friends and family are, their habits and daily activities and even their financial circumstances passed on to criminals. I just tried this and my screen showed the following message 4 times – Setting interrogation Succeeded. Voice call Forwarding on all calls Disabled. Dismiss.

*#62# Dial this code if you want to find out where calls, messages and data are being redirected to if it seems that no one can get through to you. The chances are in this case that your voice calls are being redirected to one of your cell phone company’s numbers. I tried this and my cell showed Setting Interrogation Succeeded Voice Call Forwarding When Unreachable Forward to +13065804001 Enabled. This took me to my voicemail and I had to then enter my password.

##002# This is a universal code for switching off all forms of redirection away from your phone. It’s a good idea to use this before you have to use roaming. In this case, money won’t be taken from your account for calls that are redirected by default to your voice mail. I didn’t do this because I didn’t want to lose the call forwarding when I am on the phone or don’t answer because it is set up to go to voice mail.                                                                                                                                                                                                      
*#06# With the help of this code, you can find out your IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identifier). If you know this number, you can find your phone if someone steals it. When switched on, its location is automatically conveyed to the network operator even if a different SIM card is inserted. If someone knows your IMEI number, they can find out the model and technical characteristics of your phone. I tried it and it showed my IMEI number.
The James Bond code  Special codes exist that allow someone to track your location and also to determine whether someone is following you. For this, you need the utility net monitor. Type in one of the following codes:
for iPhone:*3001#12345#* I tried this but got an error message Error performing request. Unknown Error. Dismiss. So I can’t say if this works or not.
for Android:*#*#4636#*#* or *#*#197328640#*#*

Step 1. Go to the section called UMTS Cell Environment, then UMTS RR info and write down all the numbers under Cell ID. These numbers are the basic stations located nearby. Your phone will connect by default to the one that emits the best signal.
Step 2. Go back to the main menu and click on the MM info tab, then on Serving PLMN. Write down the numbers under Local Area Code (LAC).
Step 3. With the help of these two numbers and an ordinary website (the fourth tab to the left), you can determine the location on the map of the basic station that your phone connected to.
The ones to be suspicious of are mobile basic stations— this could be a truck or small bus with a large antenna. These kinds of vehicles are used at rock festivals and in places where Internet coverage is poor. If there’s one of them nearby, seemingly without any logical reason, it’s just possible that someone is engaged in spying.

If you use android, use anti virus software, you should periodically check your phone for viruses. PlaceRaider is one of the most dangerous ones that can infect your device. Developed by American experts, it was meant to show how vulnerable our devices are. Once it gets onto a phone, this Trojan takes a series of photographs of the surrounding area, creates a 3D model of the building you’re in and then takes advantage of any Internet connection to send the data that it’s gathered, adding along with it all the data on the phone and your passwords.

How do the secret services listen in? National security agencies in virtually all countries now cooperate with cell phone operators, who often provide the former with access to information on any of their customers provided they have a warrant from a court. As a minimum, they provide data from the last three months.
If your phone has been tapped by a security agency, the chances are you won’t even notice. If a phone makes odd noises during a conversation, loses battery power rapidly, overheats or unexpectedly restarts, this is merely an indication that you need to get it repaired rather than a telltale sign that you’re being listened to.
People generally don’t reveal all that much in phone conversations, so from the point of view of those who want to listen in it’s much more worthwhile to set up special devices (“bugs”) in someone’s home. Radio wave detectors can be used to work out whether such bugs are present in a building.

How can you protect yourself from criminals and spies?
Use messaging apps that are completely closed to outsiders, such as Telegram, Chare, Wickr, or Signal.
Determine what information it’s safe to make accessible to all. Should everyone really be able to find out your phone number or have access to information about your family, loved ones, or your lifestyle? Be very careful when posting photographs of children.
Don’t install unknown programs on your phone, keep close track of the apps you have installed, and use multiple security locks wherever you can. Don’t click on unsafe links and don’t connect your phone to suspicious “free” charging points.
Only your cell phone company should ever offer you tracking services and they should only turn them on with your explicit agreement. Websites and applications that offer to find out the location of other people are almost certainly acting with criminal intent. Be careful!

Based on materials from pikabu, droidgeek

The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Association of Regina REALTORS® Inc.. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.